French Onion Soup

20160507-021922-8362211.jpgI had no idea why am I so intrigue to make this soup. Probably because I was super curious of how a french onion soup taste but there’s no french restaurant around me that I know of sell this soup or even if they do, I bet it cost a fortune. And for me, one of the reason of why I love to cook and bake is because I can make food that I can’t actually buy. I think that this is one of the benefits too of being able to cook. Anyone agree?

A french onion soup is clearly a soup that you can make when you don’t know what to eat but feeling for something decent. The ingredients are pretty basic too but I actually planned on making this dish for about a week (because unfortunately I haven’t got the time to make it and take photos of it). And alas, I did make it and I can tell you, I looooove it!

I think we should get to the cooking part A.S.A.P, shall we?

20160507-023019-9019468.jpgI think this part is obvious from the name, the french onion soup, you can guess that the star of the show are onions.

Yep! First step of this french onion soup is chopping some onions.
Here’s a tip to keep your eyes from tearing, I always put my onions in the fridge overnight. I have no scientific explanation here but it works.

20160507-024055-9655895.jpgLike any good french recipe, it all starts with butter. Oh yeah, a french onion soup is one of them.

Put some butter and olive oil in a saucepan and let it get melted and hot.

20160509-013300-5580688.jpgNext, put all those chopped onions that you’ve cried over into the butter and oil.

Then just start caramelizing it! This may take a good 7-10 minutes depending the heat of your stove. Here’s a tip, don’t stir it constantly or else it will take forever! I stir mine around every 30 seconds or so. Don’t stress too much about burning the onions. After all, we’re aiming for that caramelization (a.k.a one step before burning something that has a sugar content)

At first it may look like it’s a crazy amount of onions and your pan won’t fit in the end for all that soup, but trust me, it’s not. I first thought that this much onion need a big soup pan but hey, totally miscalculate it. But better save than having hot soup all over your stove (or even myself), right?

20160509-014756-6476183.jpgNow that you’ve caramelized those onions, deglaze the pan. Traditionally, they use wine to deglaze the flavour bits on the pan, but since nobody in my family drink alcohol on daily basis (just on special holidays), having a bottle of wine in the house is not a common thing in my family, oh and I’m not in my legal age yet so I can’t just stroll in and buy a bottle of wine which I will most probably just use for cooking this french onion soup.

But I do have some mild red wine vinegar so, I used that. For those of you who don’t want to use alcohol at all, you could use other type of vinegar like apple cider vinegar.

Then pour in your stock! I’m using a chicken stock but if you want, you can use beef stock or any stock/broth that you prefer! And also, to make this soup totally vegetarian, you could also substitute for vegetable stock.

20160509-014711-6431793.jpgNow chuck in the herbs. I put some bay leaves and notice the tea strainer tied with a string? I put some dried thyme and a bit of rosemary in because I don’t have the plant and I don’t feel like buying the whole bunch just to use a couple of stalks and found it tucked away in the back of the fridge a couple of months later.

If you don’t have a tea strainer, you can use a little piece of cloth, filled with the herbs and tied into a little bundle (of joy).

Once the herbs and aromatics are in, just let this nearly finished french onion soup simmer away.

20160509-112944-41384421.jpgOh yeah, once the soup is done, spoon some of it to an oven proof bowl then to the next components that make a french onion soup, the french onion soup.

To create that signature french onion top, you’ll need:
The cheese, grated. I used emmental cheese but traditionally, they use a good french cheese which is gruyere.
The bread, sliced. Usually they use some french baguette but for this, I used a semi baguette walnut bread which is a bit softer than a regular baguette and I love that walnut for texture.

20160509-113621-41781142.jpgToast your bread with a bit of butter, then rub a garlic clove all over the bread (don’t forget the sides!).

20160509-113741-41861474.jpgRest them on top of the onion soup. I used 2 slices of bread because I want to cover the whole bowl and also, I love bread and soup!

20160509-202342-73422493.jpgTop the garlicky slice of bread with loads of cheese and into the broiler it goes!

20160509-225142-82302754.jpgLook how pleasing this bowl french onion soup.. Aromatic and packed with flavours onion soup, toasted garlicky walnut bread and melty cheese….

20160509-225638-82598823.jpgOh dear french people, why did you always ruin my diet with your creation….

20160512-234036-85236611.jpgA close up look of this glorious soup, just because.

20160509-225942-82782398.jpgHave I ever told you that I am currently learning french?
Anyway, I found the recipe of this soup in one of the recipe book written in french on the library of the french institution (where I’m currently learning french). The book is in french so… It has to be the real deal then, right? But well.. I’ve changed a few things especially on the quantity (the original recipe calls for 10 big onions…) of the soup.

20160512-234753-85673104.jpgWait, doesn’t this mean it’s not so traditional anymore? Hemm… Maybe.. I guess? But I did some research on it and nevertheless, it is GOOD!
So.. Let’s just say that it’s my take on a french onion soup then.

P.s: have I told you that this dish is called soupe à l’oignon gratinée? “Soupe à l’oignon” literally means onion soup and “gratinée” is the signature bread and broiled melted cheese top.

20160513-000407-247860.jpgHave a good one everybody!

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French Onion Soup Recipe
Make 2 servings (medium to small bowl portion)

Ingredients:
• 3 big onions
• 3 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 30 – 50 ml white wine/ apple cider vinegar
• 500 ml beef/chicken/vegetables stock
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 tsp dried thyme (or a couple of stalks of fresh ones)
• 1 tsp dried rosemary (or a couple of stalks of fresh ones)
• Salt and pepper
• Baguette + a bit of butter
• 1 clove of garlic (peeled)
• Grated cheese (traditionally gruyere)

How to make it:
1) Peel and slice your onions into thin pieces.
2) Heat up the butter and olive oil, then cook the sliced onions until it caramelized (around 7-10 minutes, on medium high heat).
3) Once the onion caramelized and browned, pour the wine/vinegar to deglaze the pan, don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan for all the flavours.
4) Pour in the stock and put the bay leaves, thyme and rosemary in. Simmer the soup until just started to boil. Add in the salt and pepper.
5) Slice the baguette into pieces (the thickness is to your preference). Smear the butter on the sides and toast them until golden brown. Once toasted, rub the garlic on the bread until the breads become garlicky.
6) Pour the soup into an oven proof bowl, put the garlicy toasted bread on top then cover the top with grated cheese. Put it under the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until melted and slightly golden brown.

Canelés de Bordeaux

20150627-223352-81232785.jpgWhen I first made a batch of this sweet french delicacy, I didn’t like it. I had never ate it before but i saw the recipe a couple of times and I’m intrigued. And so I decided to make it, and as i said. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t custardy nor crunchy. It is rubbery and plainly sweet. Maybe because at that time I didn’t use any flavourings other than vanilla extract.

But I tried it again the second time, this time I use vanilla bean and rhum.. And I was sold. I LOVE IT. And I started to get addicted to it. As everyone describes it. It was custardy in the inside and crunchy on the outside.

I could eat 4 canelés in one sitting (actually more.. But I still got a wee bit of self control).

This awesome little french delicacy originated from Bordeaux, a region in France. I had never been to Bordeaux, but as a wanderlust I am, I’ve seen pictures of rows and rows of canelé on the window shop of pâtisseries at Bordeaux.

*starts daydreaming*

20150627-224333-81813766.jpgMy first batch of canelé

The first time I made canelé it was rather blonde. A bit golden brown-ish.

It was okay, but not my favourite french pastries.

20150627-225159-82319446.jpgI made my second batch, I pour the batter into the mold then bake it…

And as a clumsy baker that I am, I forgot about it. When I realise that I was baking, i ran to my kitchen and saw that my canelés are dark brown and looks like it has burnt.

I was like “noooooooooooooooooooooooo”

I let it cool, unmold it, and even that it’s burnt, I still took a bite of it.

Little did I know… I discover that I was wrong!
Turns out, it was AMAZING. The crust goes caramelized and the inside taste more custardy when this happens.

So my verdict in making canelé is that; the darker the better.

But you know.. Don’t get too overboard..
I won’t lie that I’ve burnt a batch of canelé because not only I forgot to lower the temperature but I thought that I don’t need to worry about getting it over bake too much because the darker the better.

Of course it is a preference. But seriously though, you should try baking it until you thought that you’ve messed up the whole batch by burning it.

Let’s get to the baking part!
The ingredients are:

20150627-230307-82987271.jpgEgg yolks, cake flour, sugar, vanilla pod, rhum, butter and milk.

I would definitely suggest on using vanilla bean rather that extract or any other liquid flavourings.

It made a whole lot differences.

It isn’t easy for me to get my hands on vanilla pod either, even if i found a place selling vanilla pod, it isn’t cheap. That’s why I only used ⅓ of the vanilla pod.

Or you can use vanilla bean paste.
But yeah, if you absolutely can’t find any vanilla pod, you can use good quality vanilla extract. Just bear in mind it won’t be as good.

20150627-231621-83781371.jpgNow let’s talk about the molds that are going to give this signature canelé shape.

Traditionally, canelé is made in copper molds. Mine is made of aluminum. It works great and I’m quite happy with it.

The canelé mold that is easier to find is the silicone one. It is not an individual mold like the copper or aluminum, it is cheaper and it doesn’t requires to be coated with anything to makes it easier to unmold.
But this type of mold does not gives you a very defined shape of canelé and often times that it doesn’t gives you an even color, that means it’s going to be harder to achieve the dark caramelized crust that i bragged about.

If you don’t really care about the shapes, you can always use a muffin tin. But just like other french pastries such as madelines, the shape is the main identification of the pastry.

20150627-234954-85794242.jpgSplit the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds out

Look at those vanilla caviar..
Whenever I saw these black speckles in desserts, it is food porn for me

20150628-003850-2330561.jpgHeat the milk and butter with the vanilla seeds and pod.

In french pastry, always go with FULL FAT.

Full fat milk NOT skimmed milk
Full fat cream NOT half and half
Real butter NOT any butter subtitutes

Hey, french pastries are not meant for a diet.

20150628-005041-3041482.jpgMeanwhile the milk, butter, vanilla is heating, whisk the yolks in a heatproof bowl

20150628-005302-3182981.jpgStream the hot milk slowly while constantly whisking so that no scrambled yolks are form

Combine the cake flour and sugar in a bowl then whisk together to incorporate

Pour the wet batter into the dry then whisk until no more lumps of flour visible

Add in the rhum

20150628-005656-3416406.jpgNow that the batter is done, it needs to rest 24 hours or at least overnight to let the flavours develop and become more amazing.

You can put the batter in the fridge up to a week and bake it anytime you’re feeling for some canelé.

20150628-110058-39658669.jpgStrain the mixture before pouring it into the molds.

Don’t throw away the vanilla pod! Wash them and put them into sugar to make vanilla sugar.

20150630-223340-81220569.jpgButter the molds generously.

Traditionally, the copper canelé molds are coated in beeswax.
You could use beeswax too if you can get a hold of it.

Beeswax does give the best result when baking canelé.
Canelé that is baked with the beeswax coating stays crisp the longest and gives a honey taste to it.

20150630-224946-82186814.jpgPour the strained canelé batter into each molds.

Then time to bake it!

Canelé is baked in 2 temperature in the oven.
The first temperature is really high to give the canelé the caramelized crust and then the second temperature is slightly lower to cook the canelé throughly.

20150630-225336-82416291.jpgA little bit history on canelé copied from Paula-wolfert’s blog post on canelé de Bordeaux.

Many recipes don’t carry a tale; the canelé carries many. One of the oldest refers to a convent in Bordeaux, where, before the French Revolution, the nuns prepared cakes called canalize made with donated egg yolks from local winemakers, who used only the whites to clarify their wines. Any records that might verify this were lost in the turbulent revolution, thus relegating the convent story to legend.

But the alternative tale may be even better: residents of Bordeaux, who lived along the docks, gleaned spilled low-protein flour from the loading areas, then used it to make sweets for poor children. The small canelé molds, fluted and made of copper or brass, were nestled in embers to be baked.

20150630-231401-83641054.jpgLook at the custardy inside of the canelé!
And those vanilla bean specks..

By the way I am well aware that canelé is from Bordeaux, not from Paris as seen on the picture that I put a miniature of Eiffel tower.

But I’ve been wanting to use that miniature Eiffle tower for a photo for so long and I thought well yeah, heck it. Paris and Bordeaux are both from France and Eiffle tower is the icon of France.

So.. Why not?

20150713-172441-62681171.jpg
Have a good one everyone!

Canelés de Bordeaux recipe
Make 6 medium (normal) size of canelés. About 6cm in height.

Ingredients:
• 250ml whole milk
• 23g unsalted butter
• ½ stick vanilla/ 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
• 2 large egg yolks
• 75g cake flour (or substitute with 60g all purpose flour and 15g of cornstarch)
• 115 g sugar
• 20 ml dark rhum

How to make it:
1) Split the vanilla bean in half then scrape the beans out. In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter and the vanilla beans and pod.
2) Whisk the yolks then slowly stream in the boiling milk mixture, keep whisking so the yolks doesn’t scramble.
3) Combine the sugar and the flour then pour in the milk mixture whisk until no lumps of flour is visible.
4) Whisk in the rhum and store the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight.
5) Coat the canelé molds with butter or beeswax. Strain the batter then Pour them into the molds until about ¾ full.
6) Bake in a preheated over at 220°C or 430°F for 25 minutes to get the dark outside then lower the temperature to 190°C or 380°F.
7) Serve at room temperature.